Linke Group

In bacteria, the cell surface is a key interface for the interaction with different environments. In our research group, we study phenomena such as adhesion, biofilm formation, and membrane transport processes. 

Our approach is comparative:  how do closely related species of bacteria interact differently with different hosts or surfaces? What are the molecular factors underlying these interactions?

Our projects are often interdisciplinary, and span topics in both basic and applied science. Our methods range from microbiology and structural biology to genome sequencing, chemical analytics and biophysical approaches.

Our model species are typically Gram-negative pathogens. As we are interested in host specificity, we like to look at species groups that have diverse hosts, from human to fish.


the Linke group in its beginnings (2014, EVOGENE retreat, Finse)


Our model systems: Gram-negative pathogens affecting humans and fish

  • The Yersiniae

The genus Yersinia includes important pathogens that infect humans, mammals, fish, and even insects. In our lab, we mostly work with Yersinia enterocolitica, a diarrhea pathogen, and Yersinia ruckeri, a commercially important fish pathogen. By comparing the structure and function of homologous adhesion factors on the cell surface, we try to understand the molecular basis of host specificity.

  • Other Enterobacteria

Expanding on our comparative approach, we use other Gram-negative enteropathogens that are related to the Yersiniae. Rather than working on one model species, we run projects on model surface proteins and protein families, comparing their functions across species groups. For this purpose, we often work with pathogenic strains of Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica. More recently, we have also started work on various Gram-negative fish pathogens from different genera, e.g. Tenacibaculum spp.

  • Gram-negative pathogens of the oral cavity

The oral cavity is an interesting environment to study bacterial adhesion to host tissues, mineral surfaces (teeth), and medical implants. Gram-negative pathogens such as Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans can outcompete the natural oral flora and cause various conditions, sometimes including severe damage to bone and tissue, or implant loss.



In our group, we use interdisciplinary methods to elucidate the structure, function, and evolution of bacterial cell surface factors. We use well-equipped central facilities and international collaborations for our work. Our methods include, but are not limited to:

  • Molecular microbiology
  • Biophysics (e.g. adhesion assays, spectroscopy)
  • Structural Biology (including x-ray crystallography and NMR)
  • Electron microscopy
  • Equipment available in the group:
    • Plate reader (optical and fluorescence)
    • SPR
    • Single-channel conductance (BLM setup)
    • Protein purification (FPLC)
    • Anaerobic chamber
    • Fermentation equipment


Key projects

Our main projects fall into two loosely connected categories: projects dealing with bacterial adhesion, and with membrane transport processes. Other published work relates to method development and is shown at the end of this section.


Projects on host specificity

Projects on adhesion to inorganic surfaces

Projects on biofilm formation and autoaggregation

Projects on anti-adhesive and anti-biofilm approaches

Projects on Autotransport (Type 5 Secretion)

Projects on membrane protein folding

Projects on membrane-active toxins and endotoxins

Projects on metal ion transport and nanoparticle formation

  • Previous and current funding sources
    • Research Council of Norway (Digital Life): BEDPAN (2018-2023)
    • UiO internal funding (MN Innovation PhD program): PARTICAT (2016-2020)
    • VISTA (PostDoc stipend): NANOP (2014-2017)
  • Key collaboration partners
    • NTNU (Norway)
    • University of Granada (Spain)
    • DTU (Denmark)
  • Selected reading (up to 3 papers)
    • in preparation

Projects related to method development


Projects related to genomics and proteomics approaches


Published Sep. 3, 2014 11:28 AM - Last modified Feb. 10, 2021 3:07 PM


Detailed list of participants